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So You Have a WordPress Weblog, eh?

July 17, 2008

This post is intended for users who have just started a WordPress blog and may be wondering what to do next. If you follow these steps and let your common sense guide you, your blog can be up and running in no time.

1. Set up the look of your blog. Choose your blog name, theme, widgets, etc. This make take a while, as you’ll need to focus on which theme best suits your purposes, as well as deciding on which widgets to use and in what order. Spend some time experimenting until everything looks exactly as you want it to.

A quick tip: If you want to change the tagline of your blog (set by default to “Just another WordPress.com Weblog”), go to the Settings option on your dashboard. This option can be a bit difficult to find, but it is located on the far right side of the line which holds options such as “Write”, “Manage”, etc. This Settings area is one that I didn’t find for months after I started my blog, and I discovered that a lot of the settings that I had wanted to use were located there.

Once you’ve got everything arranged properly,  remember to keep yourself open to other options. I can’t even recall how many times I changed my blog theme and moved widgets around before deciding on the current configuration, and I still tweak things now and then.

2. Familiarize yourself with your dashboard. Click every link in the dashboard, so that you know where things go and what options you have. At this point, you might also check WordPress’s official Features page, which gives you more information on what features are available and how to best use them.

3. Go to the WordPress.com front page, and read any of the blog posts featured there. Decide what you like and don’t like about the way that the blog is laid out, as well as the content. I suggest doing this repeatedly (you can also use the little arrow at the top right corner of your dashboard to find new blogs) so that you know what widgets and themes others are using and whether they are effective, as well as what topics are being written about. You can’t write an effective blog if you don’t know what one looks like, and you’re likely to learn a lot from spending some time on other blogs.

4. Write a blog post. It can be as simple as “Hello, this is my first blog post and I don’t have a clue what is going on” or it can be a fully formed, well-written piece. It’s completely up to you, and it depends on how comfortable you’ve become with WordPress and with blogging in general. This is also a good time to familiarize yourself with the options available to you on the “Write Post” page. Check out the “Add Media” area, as well as Tags and Categories.

5. Step back and take a good look. Do you like the way that your blog looks? Are your widgets useful to your readers, and does anything seem to be missing? You might ask another blogger or a friend to take a look as well, as they may catch things that you do not.

6. At this point, you may feel like you’re ready to announce your blog to the world. You can certainly do so, and I will admit that I did. However, I have a suggestion. Wait a week first, and write a few blog posts. Experiment with adding links and pictures. Keep an eye on what happens to your widgets as your blog gets a few more posts. Make adjustments and changes. If you get too much traffic early on, and your blog has major flaws or is under construction, many of those readers could turn away. Also, readers are more likely to return to a blog that seems to be well-maintained and likely to stick around, and two posts just isn’t very convincing. I would recommend about 10 well-written posts before you begin to publicize. This will give you time to get the bugs out, and you’ll feel ready for all the new traffic that you’ll begin pulling in.

7. Read up on blogging and on gaining more traffic. I suggest the following:

8. Keep up the good work. If you’ve gotten this far, things can only go up for you. Keep writing, and keep learning.

 

 

If you liked what you saw here, please check out my other posts, available on the right-hand toolbar. Also, if you have any tips for new bloggers, or questions for me, please leave a comment.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul is a Hermit permalink
    July 20, 2008 11:44 pm

    Okay, how did I end up in your blogroll?
    This seems way to classy a place to have that happen. Unless you know my SCA attending daughter?

  2. July 21, 2008 6:46 am

    Thanks for the great tips on starting a blog, and for the recommendation. Too many people get so caught up in the look and forget about the content. Good for you for recommending they start with the content and work their way to the rest of the fun parts.

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